Electronic gadgets like computers and mobile phones have become an integral part of our everyday life. Moreover, the COVID-19 situation has made it mandatory for kids to spend a lot of time in front of digital screens. This can have several detrimental effects on their health and mentality.
Here are Tips To Limit The Screen Time For Kids
Considering the kid’s maturity
Before you guide your kids regarding screen time, consider their maturity level. As they become older, they learn to be more responsible and make their own decisions rationally. But, this is not applicable in all cases.
For children who lack responsibility and maturity, technical advancements can have negative impacts on their nature.
For them, you have to ensure they know the proper way to handle technology. You need to constantly monitor their usage of the technology and make specific alterations.
Do not make compromises in parenting
Often, kids will compare their behavior as a parent with other people. If you limit screen time and don’t let them do what they want, they will tell you about their friends and how they lead a less restricted life.
This may lead you to think that you are taking away their childhood. This thought is a result of a lack of parenting qualities and an inability to look at the bigger picture. Have faith in yourself and be patient.
Make them win the screen time
The problem with kids of this generation is that they get everything they want. They are unaware of the struggles that people have to go through to achieve their targets and fulfill their dreams.
Incorporate the habit of ‘You get what you deserve’ in them so that they only get stuff like phones and tablets when they do a specific chore or activity. If a kid wants to watch TV, make them clean up their rooms or do the dishes.
Negligible screen time while studying
Nowadays, kids have to use their phones or computers for study-related matters. Except for that, don’t let them be near gadgets when they are studying or doing their homework.
Just like any other work, studying demands full attention from the kid for better performance. This can be disrupted if their minds linger on other things while working.
Constantly monitor what they are doing on the phone or computer, and don’t let them be near them unless it is extremely important.
Modeling appropriate behavior
Kids learn their first lessons at home, and parents are their first teachers. So, you have the advantage of being able to model their behavior towards digital screen time as you want.
Help them to develop healthy screen time habits and let them learn how to distinguish between the good and the bad. In this way, they will be able to prepare themselves so that digital media becomes a useful tool that they can use to benefit in several ways.
Grow their interest in print media
Technological advancements have made us choose between convenience and quality. Kids are becoming ignorant towards the available print media, which are equally helpful as digital ones.
As a parent, train them to be more interested in books rather than PDFs, board games, and outdoor sports instead of online and virtual video games.
Let them understand that these are still relevant and not outdated. Do not restrict their modes of education and guide them to experiencing all forms of achieving knowledge.
Teaching correct approach
Modeling kids’ behavior towards screen time is not just enough- you need to guide them constantly. Digital media comes with its advantages as well as threats. We are already aware of the multiple dangers posed by social media and other digital websites.
Children need to be aware of all these before they step into the virtual world and start using it. Teach them what is appropriate and what is not. Make them aware of issues like online harassment and cyberbullying.
Encourage them to benefit from screen time
As already mentioned, online media has opened many fresh possibilities for all of us, and there is a lot to learn. So, if kids want to use their mobiles and laptops, they must use them properly. They can learn many things from the Internet and follow their passion and interests.
Use the technological facilities to educate your kid, make them intellectually brilliant and help them develop their passions and hobbies. This would be the correct approach to effective digital usage.
Keep aside technology-free time
If you and your kids spend a lot of time on electronic gadgets, this will leave you with no time to communicate and bond with each other. Gradually, you will fall apart, and your relationships will be compromised.
Therefore, keep aside some time regularly that is devoid of any technology and spend more time with each other. Connect with your family members and build a healthy family dynamic. This way, your kids learn the value of intimacy and deep conversations.
Your kids will be spoiled by technology if they always have easy access to it. So, to limit digital usage, centralize the electronic gadgets in one place. Do not install TVs and computers in every room or the kids’ bedrooms.
Keep all gadgets in one room, for example, the drawing-room. This way, you can monitor your kid’s access to electronic gadgets, and they would be less tempted to use them all the time, even without your supervision or proper guidance.
Setting screen time regulations and restrictions
You control what your kids do when you get screen time, and you need to have specific regulations related to it. Set certain rules regarding when and how they can use laptops or phones. Be flexible but don’t push too much.
As mentioned earlier, also restrict screen usage to specific zones in your house so that overall screen time can be restricted. Also, make sure your kids stay away from electronic gadgets before going to sleep or while they study.
Keep them engaged
To make your kid understand the balance between the real and virtual world and have a healthy life schedule, you have to keep them engaged along with you. Family time is the most precious thing you can give your kids.
This way, they understand that every little moment or being with the family is essential and healthy. Take them out for a walk or a movie, play games with them- do anything that keeps them engaged, away from digital screens.
Categorize content they have access to
The Internet provides us with a large variety of content to consume. While we know how to choose the appropriate content for ourselves, kids don’t. So, anything they watch or do on the digital media must be approved by a grown-up, most likely to be their parents.
It is foolish to allow a kid to make mature choices by himself/herself. Only let them have access to media and digital content that can be knowledgeable or appropriately entertaining to them.
Explain the health issues related to limiting screen time
Kids usually tend to understand things when you explain them rationally. Avoid getting into arguments or scolding them unnecessarily. Explain to them that limited screen time is essential to their health maintenance, just like a balanced diet or proper hygiene.
List out the problems they’ll have to face if they take the matter lightly and discuss the issues of restricted physical activity or higher rates of depression resulting from the overuse of digital media. Consequently, they will obey your commands.
Inform them of the consequences of screen time misuse
Many parents avoid discussing mature topics with their kids as they consider it appropriate.
But, if your kids are unaware of the dangers, they will not be able to protect themselves from the factors. Therefore, discuss openly the demerits of not following screen time restrictions.
Take drastic measures if required, like blocking apps and video games or changing the WiFi password if they are disobedient. Remember that you are doing it for their welfare, and this will gradually benefit them.
Don’t use digital media as a distraction
If you give in to your kids and allow them to use digital screen media just so they are distracted and do not irritate you, this will gradually be a backlash to you.
Once they develop the habit of being engrossed in the screens of their phones and laptops, it would be a tough task to retrieve the habit.
They will develop anxiety when they no longer have access to technology, and it would be very difficult to tackle them.
Connect the restrictions to your moral values
Every kid is brought up differently based on their parents’ ideals and value systems. So, the movie/app that appeals to your kid’s friend and his/her parents may not do to you. Your kid needs to understand that your restriction is built upon the foundation of what you believe and your moral sense.
Let them know that they, too, need to follow your path and develop their moral values similarly. This is an effective way to reduce screen time.
Negligible exposure to toddlers and infants
While kids need access to digital media for their education or other stuff, infants have no connection to screen time whatsoever.
Therefore, avoid getting into the practice of handing your phone or tablet to your infant and letting him/her play with it or watch TV while he/she has lunch.
These practices will gradually grow and then become inseparable. When you explain your restrictions to them, they will surely understand what you mean and act according to your instructions.
Developing the habit of reading
Books are a person’s best friend. If you can incorporate the habit of reading in a kid when he/she is still young, this practice will work wonders to limit screen time for them in their later ages.
Books play an important role in developing the intellectual persona of a child, and reading will make him intelligent and wise. Also, it will divert them from digital screens, and therefore, it would be very easy to reduce digital usage for them.
Encourage kids to make real friends
Nowadays, very young kids have gotten into the habit of making friends online and believe in the concept of chatting online. Parents must teach their kids the importance of personal touch and the lack of reality in the virtual world.
Help them in making friends with whom they can connect personally. Ask them to spend time with kids in your locality. This way, they will be more interested in interacting with friends personally, rather than spending time on virtual screens.
Encourage physical activity
Regular exercise is not only important for your kid’s health. It is also an effective way of keeping them away from digital screens. Spend an hour every day in the morning and evening in physical activity and exercise along with them.
This helps to strengthen the bond between a parent and a kid, increase their physical agility and control their digital usage. Instead of just sitting around and staring at a screen, it’s better to engage in some outdoor activity.
Be a role model to your kids
Your kids will learn from you. Parents are the ultimate source of inspiration for children. They will imitate whatever you do, and their thoughts and activities are largely influenced by you.
So, if you are spending a lot of time on your phones and laptops yourself, your kids will never take you seriously and will eventually disobey you. So, set an example for the kids and let them learn. When you limit your screen time, your kids will follow you.
Excessive screen time can impair a kid’s concentration and his/her ability to focus on a particular work.
SO, as a parent, it is your responsibility to take necessary measures to restrict their access to digital media so that you can protect them from any possible threat. Kids will always listen to their parents when explained with care and empathy.
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Mother of Two children. I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for Good parenting. I understand child development and know how to develop activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.